Father Of The Roots’ QuestLove And R&B Singer, Lee Andrews, Dead At 79

Rolling Stone has reported that Lee Andrews, lead singer of the Philadelphia doo-wop group, Lee Andrews & the Hearts, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 79.

Andrews is also the father of The Roots’ iconic drummer, Questlove (Ahmir Thompson), who confirmed his father’s death via his official Instagram account, acknowledging their special bond and labeling his late father “the Greatest Teacher in my life.”

“For every backstage experience. For every drum lesson. For giving me your tireless work ethic. For our father & son record binging expeditions. For our arguments over the summer I discovered #ItTakesANationOfMillions. For the look on your face when I told you ‘Imma give this rap thing a try’ (I waited til our 2nd album to have this convo btw) For the look on your face five years later when I told you, ‘You don’t have to work no more.’ For the look on your face when a year later I was like, ‘Seriously dad, you don’t have to work anymore!’ For bringing my mom & my sister into my life. For the years we fell out. For the years we put it back together. But really, for the last two conversations we had. I understand why you were so hard on me praying I didn’t succumb to a fate not meant for a teenager in west Philly in the mid 80s. I didn’t understand it at the time. But I appreciate it now. I hope Donn & I do you proud.”

Andrews, a Philadelphia native since the age of 2, was born Arthur Lee Andrews Thompson in Goldsboro, North Carolina, in 1936 and went on to form the Lee Andrews & the Hearts doo-wop quintet in 1953.

Like his son, Questlove, Andrews was raised by a musical family as his father, Beechie Thompson, sang with the Dixie Hummingbirds, an influential black gospel group in the 1920s beloved by many around the world. It was when the Thompson family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that made the formation of the Andrews and Hearts quintet possible.

The Philly quintet recorded singles for labels such as the notoriously famous Chess Records, United Artists, Gotham, and Rainbow. They were managed by Kae Williams, a popular DJ in Philadelphia and owner of Junior Records, and during 1957 and ’58 the group recorded their three biggest hits: “Teardrops,” “Long Lonely Nights,” and “Try the Impossible.”

The Hearts, considered one of the finest R&B vocal groups of the 1950s, consisted of Andrews (lead vocals), Royalston “Roy” Calhoun (first tenor), Thomas “Butch” Curry (second tenor), James “Jimmy” McCalister (baritone), and John Young (bass).

The group had a brief breakup in 1960 in which Andrews had a revolving lineup of the Hearts — renaming the ensemble as the 5 Hearts, or the Famous Hearts — but eventually continued their work together until 1968.

Andrews’ continued his career after his tenure with the Hearts. In 1973 he went on to record an album with a new soul band called Congress Alley, which would be his last recorded project. The ensemble featured his wife, Jacquelin Thompson.

Questlove, 45, credits his parents musical lifestyle for his own love and career in music. As a child, he would accompany his parents on tour, and picked up his passion for drumming and the R&B sound at a young age, which would go on to influence his work with the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots and his personal passion of DJ’ing.

Along with his band, Quest and The Roots are most recently known as the in-house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which they’ve been apart of since Fallon took over the show in February of 2014.

[Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]

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